I love photography. It’s an art form based on a single click. It’s something that anyone can pick up and get fun results with, or there’s a whole level of depth available if you choose to develop that skill, and monetize in the thousands of dollars. I first got in because it was free to play. I got my first digital camera, a point and shoot, free with a computer. No up front cost in my case, and no ongoing charges for processing and development. Just click, and cool things start happening. I had a lot of fun pushing the limits of that little camera, but eventually I hit a wall. I had to monetize. And then all hell broke loose.
Everything you are about to read, for those of you still here after the jump, fits as an exception to that whole dematerializing position I took. In my mind I’m not contradicting myself, because this is art. But that’s how insidious this is. But I’m getting ahead of myself.
The first wall was the art budget for Game Developer magazine. It was a good amount, enough to commission some great original art for the magazine. But I also wanted to run longer articles, and additional pages cost additional money. So I would scrounge around trying to make it all fit together. And then Canon introduced the Digital Rebel, the first sub-$1,000 digital SLR camera. I immediately saw the potential to create great art free, on a monthly basis, and move the savings over to print production. I asked our SVP if I could expense it, making the costs savings argument. He said no. I bought one anyway. At the same time, after months of work, I had finally landed an interview with Shigeru Miyamoto. I had 30 minutes with him. Midway through, I laughed at his joke before it got translated, and from that point on, we communicated directly in my awful Japanese and his much better English.
At the end, I whipped out my Canon, Takahashi-style, and took a few snaps. A couple of them turned out great. One of them was really quite amazing. I decided to use it as the cover shot for the issue that ran the interview. This was slightly controversial, not for the self-serving aspect of putting my own art on the cover of the magazine I was the editor of, but because in its decade of existence, we couldn’t find a record of there ever being a human on the cover. It was always game art. But it worked nicely, it looked great, the readers loved it, and advertisers did too. The bottom line improved. And I saw the light. An extended version ran on Gamasutra, here.
The second wall was the much more familiar one of becoming a parent. Once you see that little person, you’re kind of a goner. You think she’s the most amazing thing in the universe, and you feel very temped to prove it to everyone. And the best, most efficient, convenient way to prove it, is to take and post digital pictures. They speak for themselves. And then you get a little crazy, looking for those perfect optical effects. You upgrade your crop sensor DSL to full-frame, to capture as much natural light as possible. You start investing in lenses that push the aperture capabilities of modern technology, to get that razor thin focus target, with everything else dissolving into buttery bokeh. And yes, it’s called investing. Not wasting money. Investing.
I’m currently shooting with a Canon 5D MkII, and my personal favorite lens is the 85mm f/1.2 lens. The mm number refers to the focal length, or the distance from the glass lens to the silicon sensor in the camera. The f/ number refers to the aperture, or how much light the lens will allow. This number is slightly counterintuitive, since the smaller the number, the greater the light. I like this lens, because at 85mm, it has the least visual distortion for portrait photography, and at f/1.2, allows the most versatility with available light. It’s a hard lens to use all the way down to 1.2, because your focus has to be perfect. You can have one eye of your subject in focus, and another not. If it’s the correct eye, you’ve got art. Here’s a picture of Persephone, to show this. I’ll show you pictures of my daughter in person.
This rig is perfect for capturing amazing moments of my daughter’s life. And subsequently decorating my home with those pictures. The photography industry has me, hook, line, and sinker. I’m a whale, and I’m okay with that. It makes me happy, it makes her happy, and nobody is harmed in the process. And that’s how a striving minimalist ends up with some fairly outlandish gear strewn across his home office.